The narratives for this Raptors/Heat series just continue to make no sense. First we were all about Kyle Lowry's struggles. Then, we were dancing in the streets about Jonas Valanciunas. There's been a bunch of constant buzzing about DeMar DeRozan, but that's to be expected by this point. Now, Lowry is back and we're riding high. The Raptors are up 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Heat. Both team's centres -- Hassan Whiteside and Jonas Valanciunas -- are out for the rest of the series. Everything -- narratives, wins, legacies? -- is up for grabs.
Here are three things to watch for:
Dwyane Wade, the Living Terror
In Game 3, the only thing keeping the Heat afloat was a throwback performance from Wade. Goran Dragic was shelled off the floor, Joe Johnson was ineffective (that's all I'm going to say; I don't want to wake him up), and Luol Deng only managed four points in 39 minutes. The Heat's run, and their shot at winning Game 3, came entirely from Wade. He finished with 38 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and many moments of terror.
So, heading into Game 4, at age 34, it's fair to ask: Can Dwyane Wade do it two games in a row? Let's hope no.
How Small is Small?
Heading into this series, we knew the Raptors and Heat would play small. After Hassan Whiteside and Jonas Valanciunas, both teams employ limited centre options. And now, with both of them out, this series will be decided by the guards. That said, who's playing the 4- and 5-spots for both teams?
Presumably Toronto will start with Bismack Biyombo and attempt to leverage his size against what's left of the Heat frontline. With Lowry back to bombing jumpers, Biyombo's effectiveness may increase on the pick-and-roll as Lowry's defenders will be forced to guard him more closely. For the Heat, however, it's a line of Udonis Haslem, Josh McRoberts and Amare Stoudemire -- not exactly anyone who's going to scare you at the rim (this play excepted). It remains to be seen what utility can be squeezed from these three for the rest of the series.
Meanwhile the Raptors will also be forced to go small with Patrick Patterson, DeMarre Carroll and, hmm, maybe Jason Thompson? After Luis Scola's five disastrous minutes in Game 3, the Raptors' new big man rotation is up in the air. Keep an eye on it.
I don't have to put any cute signifiers on that subheading because at this point Kyle Lowry stands alone. In 41 minutes on Saturday, Lowry dropped 33 points on 11-for-19 shooting (including 5-for-8 from three) and effectively got Goran Dragic out of the game with his pyrotechnics. It was awesome. It was needed. It was peak Lowry.
So of course the question today is: Will Lowry be back again to crush the Heat?
Where to Watch: TSN, 8:00pm